700-Year-Old St Nicholas Ring Discovered in Galilee
By Mei Manuel, February 27, 2018 05:02 AM
A very rare Middle Ages bronze ring depicting the image of St. Nicholas was discovered by accident last week by a gardener working on a landscaping job in a community in Jezreel Valley, in Galilee.
According to the reports, 26 year old gardener Dekel Ben-Shitrit found the ring while weeding. He said, 'I rubbed it slightly and I saw it was carved with a human image inside a frame.'
The Israel Antiquities Authority said that the ring was one of a kind as it is well-preserved despite its age. According to Dr. Yana Tchekhanovetz, archaeologist for the Israeli Antiquities Authority specializing in the Byzantine period, the ring will assist in improving science for such relics and adds 'On the ring is the image of a bald man with a staff next to him. On preliminary examination, this seems to be St. Nicholas holding a bishop's crook - his hallmark. In the Eastern Christian world, St. Nicholas is considered the patron saint of travelers, including pilgrims and sailors. And so, Christian pilgrims to the Land of Israel from all over the Byzantine Empire would carry his icon to protect them from harm. It is probable that the ring belonged to a pilgrim who sought the protection of St. Nicholas on his travels.'
Archaeologist and Roman roads expert Dr. Yotam Tepper adds that the ring may have been from a pilgrim who passed by the community of Moshav Hayogev in the Jezreel Valley. The community used to be a known settlement from the Roman and Byzantine periods alongside Legio.
He said, 'We know that the main Roman road from Legio to Mount Tabor passed next to Moshav Yogev, and the road must also have been used throughout the centuries by Christian pilgrims on their way to the sites on Mount Tabor, Nazareth and around the Sea of Galilee,'
The Israel Antiquities Authority anti-theft inspector Nir Distelfeld said: 'We thank Ben-Shitrit for handing over this special artefact to the Israel Antiquities Authority, and we encourage others to do the same, When they do, they enrich and deepen archaeological understanding of the past that belongs to all of us. The Israel Antiquities Authority will be awarding Ben-Shitrit a good citizenship certificate in thanks for his action.'
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